OK, now that that's out of my system...
I absolutely love this computer. It's fast, it's gorgeous, the keyboard is backlit, the battery lasts over seven(!) hours (compared to 20 minutes for my Powerbook!), the display is glossy (and soooo much brighter than the Powerbook), and I have access to all the new features of Leopard, like Stacks and Spaces and Front Row and iLife '08. Not to mention that I got a great tip from an Apple salesperson about a month ago, when I was buying my laptop case -- he suggested I make a personal shopping appointment if I was planning to come over tax-free weekend. Although I felt silly doing so (I mean, "personal shopping"... honestly), truer words were never spoken. When I arrived this morning -- at 9:30am, no less, 30 minutes before the usual opening time -- there was a line stretching out almost to the parking lot. Yet I was in and out in under thirty minutes. Rock on.
Also, whilst avoiding the financial minefields of AppleCare and MobileMe, I did let the "personal shopping" salesgirl talk me into iWork, and I'm really excited about it. Like Microsoft Office, it's made up of three programs -- Pages (=Word), Keynote (=PowerPoint), and Numbers (=Excel) -- but, like everything Mac, it's far easier to use. I don't think I'd have made the leap just based on my first look at Keynote (which is very much like PowerPoint, just a little more functional and smooth as far as graphics, effects, and transitions), but Pages does absolutely amazing things with layouts and graphics (which can then be exported to Word in order to be compatible with PCs), and Numbers, well... let's not get into all the trouble I have with Excel (I consider L to be a functional genius, purely based on her knowledge and ability with Excel), but Numbers appears far easier to use, right down to the included editable fill-in spreadsheets for common things like household budgets. If I bought the whole package with the purchase of a computer, it was only $50 -- a drop in the bucket compared to the $1600 I was spending on the computer and the up-front cost of the iPod (which I'll receive a refund for) -- so I caved in.
I can't wait to start trying it all out. I'm currently sitting in our suite in the Marriott Residence Inn in Winston-Salem (which we got an outrageous deal on, thanks to Hotwire), and the Internet doesn't appear to be working, so I may stroll over to the clubhouse for a little while and try out their wireless, just to post this and get some of the basic things set up like Mail (which I'll finally be able to use, now that I have a computer with enough RAM to deal with it). I'll have to wait on Time Machine, iPhoto, and iTunes until I get home to my backup hard drive, but I can handle that.
L is napping on the bed... poor thing, she's been out of town every weekend for the past month (D.C., TN, Asheville, and now Winston-Salem) due to various obligations, and is getting really sick of not getting any real, restorative downtime. I'm glad we'll be at home next weekend.
I'll post again in a day or two about last weekend's Asheville trip (lots to talk about) as well as the new "contest" we (the nurses) have started at work. Stay tuned.